WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States, France, Italy, Germany and Britain said on Wednesday they were disappointed with a decision by Kosovo not to allow eligible citizens to vote in neighboring Serbia’s elections next month, warning the move would undermine the Balkan republic’s European aspirations.
The five governments said in a joint statement the government in Pristina had rejected a “constructive proposal” they presented to allow eligible Kosovan citizens to vote in Serbia’s elections on April 3.
Kosovo earlier banned ethnic Serbs from voting on Kosovan soil in a Serbian national referendum on constitutional amendments in January, against the urging of Washington and the four European nations, who all backed Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence.
“Such an attitude of the Kosovo Government is not in line with our values and principles and will undermine its European aspirations,” the statement on Wednesday said.
The five nations said Serbia had shown “availability to find a solution” and that they expected Kosovo to work to decrease tensions and engage in EU-facilitated dialogue on normalization of relations with Serbia.
“This is crucial to achieve progress towards a comprehensive normalization agreement that will ultimately unlock the EU perspective of Kosovo,” the statement said.
Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti said he was expecting an official letter of request from Serbia.
“There is no agreement (with Belgrade), which is a condition for holding these elections,” Kurti told a press conference in Pristina.
A day earlier, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic said such a request to the government in Pristina would be tantamount to the recognition of Kosovo.
“I cannot and will not accept independence of Kosovo, despite the price,” he said in Belgrade.
Serbs account for around 5% of Kosovo’s population in enclaves across the country and in the predominantly Serb northern part of the country. Most of them refuse to recognize Pristina as their capital.
(Reporting by Simon Lewis and Fatos Bytyci in Pristina and Aleksandar Vasovic in Belgrade; editing by Jonathan Oatis)